HMRC Stakeholder Digest – 26 January 2022

26 Jan 2022

Please see the following message which we are sharing on behalf of HMRC:

This HMRC Stakeholder Digest provides a round-up of our latest news and updates, which we’d be grateful if you could share with your clients, customers or members.

The Government has set up a dedicated support page where businesses can find the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Claiming back Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to Coronavirus

The Statutory Sick Pay Rebate (SSPR) service is open, and customers can now claim to cover the costs for up to two weeks of SSP for an employee who takes time off because of coronavirus, regardless of whether employers claimed for that employee under the previous scheme.

Customers could be eligible for support if they employed fewer than 250 employees on 30 November 2021, and they’ve paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to their employees for coronavirus-related sickness absences.

Customers can reclaim up to two weeks’ SSP they have paid to their employees, at the relevant standard weekly rate of £96.35, for any eligible periods of coronavirus-related sickness from 21 December 2021. This is a new claims period.

Full guidance, including eligibility and how to make a claim, is available on GOV.UK.

Voluntary class 2 NICs

On 6 January HMRC announced that we will not charge: 

  1. late filing penalties for those who file online by 28 February 2022 
  2. late payment penalties for those who pay the tax due in full or set up a payment plan by 1 April 2022. 

Self-employed taxpayers who need to claim certain contributory benefits soon after 31 January 2022 need to ensure their annual Class 2 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) are paid on time. This is to make sure their claims are unaffected. Class 2 NICs are included in the 2020/21 Balancing Payment that is due to be paid by 31 January 2022. Benefit entitlements may be affected if they:

  • couldn’t pay their Balancing Payment by 31 January 2022
  • have entered into a Time to Pay arrangement to pay off the Balancing Payment and other Self Assessment tax liabilities through instalments.

Affected taxpayers should contact HMRC on 0300 200 3822 for help as soon as possible. 

Self-employed customers who have profits below £6,475 in the 2020/21 tax year and want to pay voluntary Class 2 NICs for Contributory Benefit after 31 January 2022, or paid voluntary Class 2 NICs via Self Assessment before 31 January 2022 but will not file their return until after 31 January will need to contact HMRC on 0300 200 3500 for assistance.

Penalty Reform for VAT is postponed by nine months

The introduction of new penalties for late submission and/or payment of VAT tax returns were due to be implemented from April this year to replace the current Default Surcharge system.

A decision has now been taken to postpone the introduction of the new penalties for VAT by nine months to 1 January 2023.

This will allow businesses more time to prepare, and for us to thoroughly test the necessary IT changes with users so we’re providing the best service possible for our customers. In the meantime, the current Default Surcharge process will continue.

More information can be found on the Parliament website.

Helping parents and carers with their childcare costs

We would like your help reminding parents and families in the UK that they may be eligible for up to £2,000 a year towards the cost of childcare, which could help towards paying for childcare this February half term.

Thousands of families are using Tax-Free Childcare to pay for childcare and benefiting from the 20% government top-up. But there are thousands more families across the UK missing out on the chance to save money on childcare.

We’ve created a new flyer for parents and carers to explain how the scheme can help them save money on their childcare bills. The flyer – Parents Guide to Tax Free Childcare – which can be printed, downloaded, or linked to is available on the Childcare Choices website. Go to “menu”, then select the arrow next to “information for childcare providers”. Follow the link to the “communications toolkit”. You should then select either “England” or “NI, Scotland and Wales” to access the Parents Guide to Tax Free Childcare. 

The childcare top-up is available as part of the government’s Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Eligible working families can receive up to £500 every three months (or £1,000 if their child is disabled) towards the cost of accredited holiday clubs, before and after-school clubs, childminders and nurseries, and other accredited childcare schemes.

Tax-Free Childcare is available for children aged up to 11, or 17 if the child has a disability. And for every £8 deposited into an account, families will receive an additional £2 in government top-up.

Parents and carers can check their eligibility and register for Tax-Free Childcare on GOV.UK.

Scam HMRC call reports drop by 97%

Latest HMRC figures show reports of scam HMRC phone calls have fallen by 97% over the last 12 months. After peaking at 79,477 in March 2021, the number of reported scammers impersonating HMRC in phone calls fell to just 2,491 in December 2021.

In the last year, HMRC has responded to 670,793 referrals of suspicious contact from the public, with 283,157 of these cases offering bogus tax rebates. Others threaten arrest for tax evasion or offer fake financial support.

As part of HMRC’s action to combat voice scams, the department has set up a direct referral route on GOV.UK where people can report HMRC-related telephone phishing.

Information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact and how to avoid scams can be found on GOV.UK. Customers can forward suspicious texts claiming to be from HMRC to 60599 and emails to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk and can report tax scam phone calls on GOV.UK.

Free, independent advice for small business

With businesses across the UK facing tough and unprecedented change during the COVID-19 pandemic, Acas has launched a new helpline to provide employers and small businesses with free, independent, and impartial advice on workplace issues.

Employers and small businesses can use this free Facebook Messenger service to get help with:

  • explaining employer duty of care and protection of employees
  • resolving disputes and improving employee relations and productivity
  • your legal duty to explore alternatives to redundancy, including role changes or retraining
  • staff consultation –⁠ what's required and how to make the process work well
  • working constructively with employee representatives and trade unions
  • processes for changing or ending contracts, or altering working hours
  • making the most of hybrid working, flexible working or homeworking arrangement

To chat with an Acas adviser, businesses can send a private message to @acasorguk on Facebook Messenger.

They can also call the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100, Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm.

Further information and support can be found on the Acas website.

England to return to Plan A

The government has announced that England will fully return to Plan A on Thursday 27 January thanks to the success of the booster programme, with ministers urging anyone who has still not had a top-up jab to come forward and Get Boosted Now.

This means that the government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can. People should speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office and should follow the Working Safely guidance.

From Thursday 27 January:

  • venues and events will no longer be required by law to use the NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis as was previously the case in Plan A
  • face coverings are no longer required by law in any setting. Public health guidance will remain in place, suggesting individuals should continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, where they may come into contact with people they do not normally meet
  • the Department for Education will remove national guidance on the use of face coverings in communal areas, with local directors of public health able to recommend the use of face coverings in education settings across their area only where the department and public health experts judge the measure to be proportionate due to specific health concerns
  • any local introduction of face coverings must be subject to routine review and removed at the earliest opportunity

Please visit GOV.UK for the full information on these changes.